I have recently posted the idea that Prince Fielder may be headed to the Jays this off season. The reason being that the Jays have what the Brewers want and can feasibly afford to sign Prince to a long term contract. However, there are many obstacles to this possibility, as the cost of the contract and dealing with Scott Boras, the costs of the initial trade in terms of players included, and the long-term commitment may be beyond what the Jays feel that they can afford to give for such a player. Apparently, I’m not the only one who sees the Jays as a player in this instance, as Ben Nicholson of MLB Trade Rumors recently posted Brett Cecil as being a possible Brewers target if they were to deal Prince.
I’ll try to cover the good and the bad of this scenario, should it play out that the Jays target and acquire Prince. I’ll approximate the deal as including 1 SP, 1-3 prospects, and possibly 1 position player depending on how highly the prospect and SP and prospects are thought of.
When you consider the power already included in the Jays lineup, adding both Prince Fielder and JP Arencibia to last season’s totals, as well as what we hope to be Travis Snider‘s breakout season, gives fans pause for thought. The Jays would definitely be feared as an offensive force and would have created an opening for Kyle Drabek to slot into within the rotation. The RBI driving potential of the middle of the lineup would be simply awesome and still young enough to be a force for a couple of years as a group. Prince would bring another potential 50 HR bat on board that also comes with the added bonus of an OBP above .400. When people mention Manny Ramirez as an option for the jays, I can’t help but think “Why go for the old guy when you could feasibly get this young guy instead without the Manny baggage?”
The other nice part of bringing Prince on board is that the Jays can trust him more versus lefties than they can Adam Lind, who’s sub-Mendoza line performances against lefties leaves much to be desired. So, on days when the Jays face a lefty, Adam can be sat and Prince can take over at 1B. When the Jays face a RHP, Adam can man 1B and Prince gets a break while acting as DH. Keeping the big man fresh by doing this will go a long way to maintaining his performance as high as possible throughout the season.
Scot Boras comes along with Prince Fielder as his agent of choice. This means that the Jays will have to pony up quite a bit of dough in order to lock him up long-term. Prince made $11,000,000 in 2010, will make more for the 2011 season while negotiating in his 3rd year of eligibility, and will be a FA in the 2012 season. So, if the Jays give up a lot of talent for Prince, they’ll definitely want to lock him up before making any deal official. Doing anything other than that would be extremely risky, as Prince could walk away from the Jays after 2011.
The other bad is the obvious one – his weight. However, I do believe that Kirby Puckett and many others such as Cecil Fielder, Prince’s father and ex-Jay, have shown that some big athletes can be quite durable despite carrying extra weight around. Being able to DH in the American League would go a long way to lengthening Prince’s career, so a move to the Jays should only help improve his offensive performance by giving him many days off the playing field. At 270 lbs before the age of 30, this will be a key point to his contract extension, as I know for a fact that he won’t be seeking to sign with a National League team for this reason. So, knowing this leaves only the A.L. teams vying for his services after the 2011 season. He and Scott Boras know this. Let’s look at who’s out there looking for a 1B at that point and who would therefore be bidding against the Jays.
NYY – Mark Texeira, enough said.
CHW – The White Sox may be the biggest competition to the Jays, as they are surely losing Paul Konerko and may feel they need the added pop. They also have Kenny Williams who loves to deal and the budget to take Prince on.
LAA – Kendry Morales should be back at 1B in 2011, making them an unlikely trade partner.
TB – No money, no Prince.
BAL – Could be a wild card in the race for Prince’s services, although I’m not sure they have the pieces to trade in order to acquire him from Milwaukee. They surely don’t have as many as the Jays.
TEX – Another wild card here, as they traded Smoak to Seattle in order to acquire Cliff Lee, creating a giant hole in their progression at 1B. They’ve also voiced their willingness to spend under new management, although they seem to be concentrated on pitching now that Nolan Ryan is leading the way. They definitely have big prospects to trade in return for Prince.
DET – Miggy Cabrera is the 1B, but they could take Prince on as a full time DH.
CLE – No Money, no Prince.
OAK – Chris Carter is the incumbant at 1B.
SEA- Smoak Smoak Smoak.
So, judging from the list above, the teams vying for Prince Fielder‘s services when he becomes a FA include Texas, Boston, Baltimore, Toronto, Detroit, and the Chicago White sox. If you’re Scott Boras looking at these options and list, you’re angry that the biggest player, the Yankees, can’t be included in the list of candidates in order to drive the price up. Still, there are enough teams that could use and bid on Prince to drive the price up a decent amount. The question is, what happens if those teams fill those roles before Prince becomes a FA? What if the Red Sox pick up Adrian Gonzalez from SD, Texas pick up Adam Dunn, the White Sox pick up Aubrey Huff, the Tigers pick up a DH like Vladdy Guerrero, and Baltimore decides it wants a cheaper and more athletic team by picking up Jorge Cantu? What happens then? You can’t very well have the Jays bid against themselves, can you? I know one thing for certain, Scott Boras does not want Prince Fielder signing a big long-term with a National League team, because if he does, the price will be much reduced due to “health issues” and risk.
Now, I know what people are thinking. Just because a team has Adam LaRoche on board, it doesn’t stop them from signing Fielder and trading Laroche. I fully understand that. But what having an option like Laroche on board does is provide for leverage when negotiating a contract with Scott Boras. The thirst to spend just wouldn’t be as high. Therefore, my reasoning comes to this: there will be pressure place on the Brewers by the Scott Boras team to trade Prince Fielder ASAP so that they can maximize on a contract before he becomes a FA. I have no idea whether or not it will happen, but I do know that Boras and company have leverage in the fact that they can bring the Brewers to arbitration this off season and drive up Prince’s price as much as possible.
Now is the time for the Jays to grab a talent like Prince’s. He had a somewhat off year, although he still had an OBP over .400, is entering his prime years, and will provide more offensive prowlness to the lineup than any FA out there this off season.Go get him Alex, and I promise that Yankee, Rays, and Red Sox pitchers will hate you for it in 2011.